Samuel (Sam) DeLuca
Samuel (Sam) DeLuca of Saratoga, Wyo., died April 18, 2002, at the Spring Creek Care Center in Fort Collins, Colo., following a lengthy illness. He was 74.
DeLuca was born Nov. 28, 1927, in Salida, Colo., to Louis and Gloria DeLuca.
The family lived in a number of mining towns before moving to Mt. Harris, Colo., in 1942. According to DeLuca, his most treasured memories of his youth were in Mt. Harris.
He served in the United States Air Force from 1945-1949. Most of his enlistment was spent at Hickman Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii. After his discharge from the Air Force, he and a service buddy bought a jeep and traveled to Alaska on a hunting trip. He fell in love with Alaska and returned in 1951 to work in a coal mine. It was in this shaft mine that DeLuca was injured resulting in paralyzation from the waist down.
However, this handicap didn’t keep DeLuca from going on with life and to make it on his own. He enrolled in a trade school, graduated and several years later started his own business in Rawlins, Wyo., as an electronics technician.
DeLuca enjoyed doing the things he loved in life. He was an avid sportsman, hunting big and small game with the help and support family and friends
He and a number of other veterans are featured in a book published in 1999, which recognizes their contribution to the emergence of the paralyzed veterans in competitive athletics.
The book, titled “Brief History of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Mountain States Chapter,” by Clydine Hamilton, listed a number of DeLuca’s personal accomplishments, such as the organization of the first paraplegic basketball team in the state called “The Par-Amps.”
According to the book, “This simple act of involvement was designed to help remove a structural barrier and to help change the attitude toward disabled competitors in the state of Colorado.” He participated in a number of other sports such as bowling and fishing but his greatest pleasure was racing sport cars and stock cars. DeLuca was the only paralyzed individual in the United States who had a license to race in NASCAR competition. It took an actual act of Congress to get him this license. He was still racing his stock car at the age of 73.
DeLuca and the Rawlins stock car enthusiasts worked for years to get a race track in their area and were finally successful in 2000. The Ripple Ridge Raceway was a dream come true. DeLuca was able to race on the track one year.
Talking with DeLuca as recently as two weeks ago his goal was to be home by summer and race again.
DeLuca is survived by his sister-in-law, Ruby DeLuca; niece, Kathy (Lynn) Blevins; nephew, Wayne DeLuca and his children, Samantha and Nick, all of Hayden, Colo.; great niece, Christy (David) Parrott; great nephew Marty (Catherine) Blevins; two great-great nieces and three great-great nephews of Craig. And, as DeLuca always said, the entire Montieth family.
DeLuca was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Betty; and two brothers, Nick and Rocko.
Graveside services were Saturday, April 25, 2002, at the Hayden Cemetery with Wayne DeLuca officiating. Vocalist Marie Bridges sang “Amazing Grace.” Veterans of Foreign Wars local gave a 21-gun salute and the family was presented with the American Flag by Sgt. Mike Flangers
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